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Going home to Moreno’s on Main

Comfort foods and ‘sinful’ desserts

Published: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 11:00 a.m. CST
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(Photo by Ken Schroeder)
Linda Moreno has been serving up food and friendliness for more than 40 years in Putnam County. Moreno’s on Main in McNabb has become a local favorite with her homecooking and down-home demeanor.
Caption
(Photo by Ken Schroeder)
One of the signature offerings at Moreno’s is a homemade pork tenderloin, prepared when you order. The pork is fresh — never frozen — with a breading so tasty, you should leave the condiments off. Almost all of the food is made fresh on a daily basis to bring out the best flavor.
Caption
(Photo by Ken Schroeder)
A spacious dining room, reminiscent of a 50’s diner, greets you as you walk in, and folksy art and wall treatments give a nice homey atmosphere to your dining experience.
Caption
(Photo by Ken Schroeder)
Moreno’s is located on the south side of Main Street in downtown McNabb.

MCNABB — Along Illinois Route 89 south of Spring Valley lies the little village of McNabb. If you move a little way west down Main Street, you’ll find Moreno’s on Main at 410 W. Main St. Prepare for some good food and a few new friends.

Linda Moreno opened Moreno’s 11 years ago after owning Moreno’s Town Club tavern in Granville for 30 years. Home-cooked meals are always on the menu, and the cozy dining room feels like Grandma’s kitchen table.

“I call this the ‘Home of Comfort Food’ because everything here is homemade,” Moreno said. “We make our cole slaw fresh each morning. Our homemade pork tenderloin isn’t made until you order it.

“We have different things everyday. We have certain things on certain days, but some things are different all the time,” Moreno said. “You’re going to have a lot of choices. People like choices. You don’t want to eat the same thing you had yesterday.”

The menu reflects Moreno’s experience in restaurant work, with a wide assortment of mealtime favorites and some original items she’s picked up throughout the years.

“They’re things I’ve picked up through the years of being in business,” she said. “You add something; you take it away. It’s kind of like an artist, you add things that look better. Here, it’s so it’ll taste a bit better.”

The customer base at Moreno’s on Main is incredibly loyal. The food brings you in, but the comfort level keeps you coming back. Moreno treats everyone who walks through the door as a friend, even if it’s their first visit. Several local groups call the restaurant home.

“The veterans meet here every Tuesday. It’s neat because we’ll get new veterans from out of town in here,” Moreno said. “We have three church groups that meet here every Tuesday morning; Methodists, Lutherans and some Jehovah Witnesses. Everyone gets along just wonderfully.”

Moreno started cooking years ago at the Country Stop Restaurant in Hennepin, and credits Ernie Bassi with getting her into her own place.

“Ernie worked at the bank in Hennepin. I had six kids and not 50 cents to put into the register,” Moreno said. “He put me in business. He believed in me, and it wasn’t long before I bought the place.”

In addition to her meals, Moreno also serves up what she likes to call “sinful” desserts. Homemade bread pudding is one of her specialties, but the house favorite is Fudge Overboard, a homemade fudge brownie topped with ice cream and homemade fudge topping and chopped pecans.

“We open at 5 a.m. everyday, and the farmers will come and figure out what’s happening for the day. Nobody usually eats alone in here,” Moreno said. “Everybody will come to this table or that. If it’s someone we know, it’ll be, ‘Come over and sit down here.’ People like that. It’s kind of a homey-type place.”

Moreno’s ability to make everyone feel like they’re at home doesn’t stop at good food and hospitality.

“Some of the farmers that come in have their favorite cups. We’ll wrap them up in plastic each day so they can have it again tomorrow,” she said. “But if I have anything that needs done like a picture that needs to be hung, one will grab a drill and another will grab the picture. They treat this place like home, and I try to make them feel that way.”

Moreno’s on Main is open Monday through Thursday 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 5 a.m. to noon. The phone number is 815-882-2130. Stop by and meet some new friends.

Stella’s one-of-a-kind potato salad

"My mother gave me this recipe years ago, and when I read it I thought she had Alzheimer's. But it's good," Moreno said.

2 baking potatoes (boil with the skin on until soft; once it's cool, remove the skin and dice

1 bunch of radishes (slice each radish 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick)

1 bunch green onions (diced)

10 eggs (boiled) - save two for decoration on top of the salad; slice and chop

2 apples (either Golden Delicious or Gala), slice and dice

1 bunch of carrots, slice and dice

1 jar of Vlasic bread and butter pickles, slice and dice

1 can of sweet peas (after cooking, remove all water)

Mayonnaise (To taste. I usually use 12 ounces)

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon celery salt

2 teaspoons salt

In a large bowl, add all the ingredients and stir thoroughly. Occasionally taste to add additional mayonnaise or pepper to your liking.

Slice remaining two eggs and lay on top of salad. Let salad refrigerate for one day before eating.

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